Video games were a novelty only few decades ago Sega and Nintendo etc. were the names to come to mind upon thinking about video games. But now video games have become a commodity, thanks to rapid technological advancements. Our options are not limited to video game consoles only but instead, video games are accessible on almost every portable and non-portable digital platform including smart phones, portable media players, tablet devices, and notebook computers. While technological advancements have increased the potential of video games to be used for productive purposes, video games continue to attract their fair share of criticism. Some of the arguments given against the spread of video games culture among children is that video games are addictive in nature and lead to loss of scarce time resources and exposure to inappropriate material negatively affects children’s healthy growth. But these criticisms often exaggerate the costs of video games. Video games technology has advanced considerably and so is its potential. The society should adopt more positive view of video games because the cumulative benefits of video games for children exceed the potential costs.
One of the greatest potential of video games for children lies in the educational department (Dutton, 2010). Video games do not only appeal to children but also provide instruction tools to the instructors. It is possible to create learning material through video games that may not be possible with traditional educational tools such as books and blackboard. In addition, video games keep children engaged by making learning fun. One of the shortcomings of the technological revolution has been that children now have increasingly shorter time spans and fortunately, we can use video games to tackle this issue through interesting and fun learning material.
Video games also encourage children to socialize and spend time with family and friends. The digital revolution means children are often occupied with numerous gadgets which discourage negatively affect their social life in the real world. But a research study found that video games may actual increase social interaction with family members and friends. 60 percent of the avid gamers surveyed in the study admitted to playing games with friends and 33 percent played games with siblings (Jenkins). Thus, video games strengthen relationships of children with their friends, siblings, and even parents because they are spending more time together. Some of us are also aware from personal experiences that many family-friendly video games are now available at each of the gaming platform such as Wii and Xbox 360 and these games often influence families in spending more time together.
Video games may also help children improve their creative and problem-solving skills (Shaevitz, 2012). Video games are now released in almost every genre including education and even non-educational games often require players to develop strategies and solve puzzles/mysteries. Games also encourage children to go for unconventional solutions and, thus, think outside-the-box. Not only children enjoy playing games but also develop critical thinking skills in the process.
Like any technology, video games have also their fair share of critics. But critics often focus on the issues that more a misuse of video game technologies rather than the problems inherent in the technology. In addition, such issues are manageable with little efforts or innovative solutions. One of the criticisms against video games is that they are addictive and result in loss of valuable time resources. The other criticism is that video games often have inappropriate content not suited to children yet children gain access to such video games and this negatively affects their development and growth in the long term.
Video games may have the potential to be addictive but so have many other revolutionary technologies such as the internet, audio and video entertainment including music and movies. The key to dealing with such issues is not avoiding the technology but to systematically tackle the problem. The parents may create a time table which also specifies when their children may or may not play video games and could provide desirable incentives to the children for compliance with the time table. Video games are now released in almost every imaginable genre and it is not uncommon for video games to have content inappropriate for children. But anyone who has ever bought a video game must be aware of the fact that video games are subjected to the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) content ratings and these ratings are often visible on the cover of the video game packagings. It is the job of the parents, retail outlets and other stakeholders to ensure that children do not have access to age-inappropriate games in the same manner we limit children’s access to movies and music with adult content. Like other technologies such as the internet, video games offer several benefits, thus, banning them will do more harm to the society than good.
Video games have the potential to be misused but video games are not unique in this regard. The solution is not to ban video games but to take measures that promote responsible use of video games and minimize access to age-inappropriate content. Video games offer tremendous potential for healthy growth and development of children. Video games keep children engaged because they make learning fun. Similarly, video games also motivate children to socialize with friends and family members and help children improve their critical thinking and creativity skills.
Dutton, F. (2010, December 12). F1 driver uses videogame for practice. Retrieved August 7, 2013, from http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/2010-10-12-f1-driver-uses-videogame-for-practice
Jenkins, H. (n.d.). Reality Bytes: Eight Myths About Video Games Debunked. Retrieved August 7, 2013, from http://www.pbs.org/kcts/videogamerevolution/impact/myths.html
Shaevitz, M. H. (2012, October 18). Video Games Can Actually Be Good for Kids. Retrieved August 7, 2013, from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/marjorie-hansen-shaevitz/video-games-good-kids_b_1974015.html